Question 1: “I thought the time of the tribulation was ‘a time of distress for Jacob’ according to Jer. 30:7. Doesn’t that mean it is a time of judgment for
Israel and not the ?” New Testament
Answer 1: In the context Jeremiah is talking about the Day of the Lord, which is a coming time of judgment at the end of time. However, nothing in this context, in the rest of the Old Testament, or anywhere in the New Testament would suggest this time would be primarily for the nation of
. In fact, one chapter later
than this (Jeremiah 31:31) we read that God “will make a new covenant with the
house of Israel Israel and the
house of ”.
Yet, in the New Testament we find out this covenant is fulfilled in the
Church—Jew and Gentile, not merely among Jews (1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb.
8:1-13). What this means is that Jeremiah was speaking from the perspective of
God’s people in the 6th century B.C., telling them that in the
future God would make a new covenant with his people—a people the New Testament
defines as the Church, Jew and Gentile. Since this is the case, it is also
possible that Jeremiah 30:7 could allow for the phrase “a time of distress for
Jacob” to have a broader application than to merely national Judah (see in
Galatians 6:16 where the Church is referred to as “the Israel of God”). Yet,
even if this is not the case with Jeremiah 30:7, there is nothing about this
text that suggests this future time would be exclusively for Israel or would
have to be experienced by them, but not the New Testament Church. Israel
Question 2: “I read in Revelation 3:10 that Jesus promised the church in
, ‘Because you have kept my word
about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming
on the world, to try those who dwell on the earth.’ Doesn’t this mean that the
Church must be removed from the locale of the earth before this time of trial
or testing comes upon the earth? Wouldn’t this support a pretribulational
Answer 2: In Revelation 3:10 though it is not for sure that “hour of trial” refers to the time of intensified suffering and judgment at the very end of this age, even if it is, it does not necessitate the removal of the Church from the earth. The same words for “keep” and “from” in this verse are also used in John 17:15 when Jesus prayed to the Father, “but that you keep them from the evil one.” (emphasis added) What is significant about this is that he prayed right before that, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world….” In other words, it is possible to “keep from” in such a way that one is not removed from the realm where the difficulties are taking place. In the same way Jesus was praying in John 17:15 that his disciples be protected from falling prey to or being destroyed by the devil, so also, the promise to the saints in
may be one of protection in the midst of hardship, rather than removal out of
Question 3: But, isn’t it true that God would not let his bride go through such great times of difficulty?
Answer 3: The answer to this question as it is stated is this: No, it is not true that God would prevent his New Testament Church from experiencing great suffering. In fact, he made it clear that Christians would face great suffering and persecution in this age (John 15:20; Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17-18; 2 Tim. 3:12). It should also be noted that the best representatives of the pretribulational rapture never use the argument that “God would never allow his Church to go through such hard times,” though at a popular level some do believe this. The best representatives distinguish between suffering and persecution on the one hand and the Great Tribulation toward the end of this age that includes an outpouring of God’s wrath. Their argument is that since the New Testament Church is in Christ and there is now no more condemnation (Rom. 8:1), they would not go through this time of wrath. However, as we have already demonstrated, it is possible for the Church to be present during this time, yet to be guarded or protected from the wrath of God.
Question 4: “What about the book of Revelation? How does it fit in with what we have said so far about the Tribulation? For the answer to that question, you will need to come back to the blog next week…